How to Survive Your Desk Job (Part 1)
When I was 17 years-young, I signed my first paying contract to launch my professional skiing career. For most of my formative years, I was fortunate to have a non-traditional career. Granted, the first few years of that endeavor required working odd-jobs in the summer: hosting at a restaurant, ringing groceries at Whole Foods, selling jewelry at a boutique, waiting tables at a brew pub... but they were all short & temporary. Those jobs never made me feel as stuck or trapped as my 9-5 has.
Some of us may have goals and plans to climb the corporate ladder, some may have entrepreneurial dreams. Regardless, if you're at a job that doesn't resonate 100% with your spirit it can feel demoralizing.
Why do our desk jobs suck the life and soul right out of us? And what can we do to combat the mental, physical and spiritual detriments brought on by our 9-5s? I don't have all the answers, but I've shared my top 5 mindset tips below!
5 Mindset Hacks for Surviving Your Desk Job
Okay, first things first, we can have the "best" desk-job in the world and still be struggling. Don't mistake a good job for the right job. I work for a pretty cool company, I get to work with numerous brands that are connected to my interests (my company's niche is in the outdoor industry), they pay for my health insurance (and my husband's), I get 3 weeks paid vacation, and they're relatively flexible with their work remote policy. The workload is manageable, and I can leave work behind at the end of the day and at the end of the week.
BUTTTTTT, it's not what I was put on this earth to do, so I'm conflicted daily. My guess is, you feel similarly, which is why you're here. So, to begin...
#1: Let it Out
Let your feelings out! Regardless of how great your job is by someone else's standards, you're still allowed to not want to be there. It's okay to express your feelings of being stuck at a job that you know isn't letting you live out your true potential. And it's certainly better than keeping it bottled up and not creating an exit strategy.
Expressing your frustration doesn't mean that you're ungrateful (though we're going to address that shortly), just be sure to find the right audience to deliver the message. I'm always here if you need a sounding board! Some people have created a story about "living your dreams," and it goes something like this: "Not everyone can be so lucky to do what they love and make a living doing it. Welcome to real life."
It was a story that I began believing at the end of my ski career. People use to say "you'll understand when you have a 'real' job," implying that my ski career wasn't real. It was non-traditional, yes, but it was real. So, when it ended I thought: it was nice that I got to do it once, now it's time to suck it up and sit behind a desk...
This doesn't have to be your story.
# 2: Don't Get Desperate
I completely understand that antsy feeling you get when you go into the office. The tension in your shoulders and neck; on really bad days, perhaps there's a tension in your chest. Your mind is spinning in a million directions, you're so distracted by all the other work that you want to be doing beyond this current job that you can't stay focused.
Your productivity isn't where you want it to be. And since you pride yourself on the quality of work you're creating, you're not feeling satisfied. All you want to do, is put in your notice so you can focus on what is really tugging at you. But please, don't get desperate.
It may feel like there is no way you could tolerate another day at your job, but you don't have to quit immediately in order to make your dreams a reality.
If you have a nest-egg squirreled away and a very clear vision on how you will turn your dreams into a flow of income, then by all means, bid that job farewell. Or, if you're ready to downsize your life and be free of "owing" anyone any money and your financial requirements are going to be greatly diminished, then QUIT!
I'm not in anyway insinuating that you should stay at your day job until quitting won't be uncomfortable. That day will likely never arrive. Quitting your day job to venture out on your own or take the next step in your career will ALWAYS be scary, no matter how prepared you are. I'm just saying, as tempting as it is to quit our jobs to follow our dreams, be sure that you're not sabotaging your life to get there. This job might be supporting you in ways you don't realize.
#3: Reframe Your Why
You sit at your desk pounding away at your keyboards thinking, this isn't for me, I'm wasting my time, I shouldn't be here, I have another calling... asking, WHY am I here?!
When you've stumbled upon your calling, it becomes very difficult to see any other path forward. Your eyes become fixed on living out this purpose and anything that doesn't directly fit in, seems to be a conflict. But, until you've laid the ground work to leave your job, you might be there for a bit.
Until the day comes that you can walk away, your work will be much more tolerable if you can tie your purpose into your desk job.
I work for an affiliate marketing network. It's an awesome company, still privately held, and our CEO is in the weeds making the company move forward every day. However, the industry exists to help brands sell products through websites that talk about or promote these products/brands. I'm not much of a consumer of material goods and it's certainly not what inspires my day.
I'm a people person. I love connecting with other human beings. My purpose is to help others create greater fulfillment in their lives. So, I started asking, how can I tie this into my everyday, even when stuck behind a desk pulling excel doc after excel doc to create a report??
I reframed "why" I was at this job. By recognizing that there were opportunities everyday for me to begin living out this purpose, my job felt less heavy. It didn't feel like I was wasting my time, but that I was making progress toward my goals. By showing up to do my best work, I could help others to feel more fulfillment in their lives. It may not be through coaching, workshops, or retreats yet, but it's a start.
#4: Practice Gratitude
We often think of that we're stuck at our job, because we look at everything that our job is keeping us from doing instead of everything that our job provides. Having a job is always better than not having a job when you need one.
By shifting into gratitude, we not only start seeing everything that our job is currently offering, but opportunities beyond what we're currently capitalizing on.
First thing to be grateful for: this job PAYS you. Is this job paying your bills right now? Is it making your life possible so that you can continue to breathe life into your dreams? Would you be able to pay your rent or mortgage without it?
Second thing to be grateful for: learning opportunities. Are there skills you're learning in your current role that might be applicable to your work in the future? What can you learn about working with other people as part of a team? What are you learning about yourself?
You're not at this job to fulfill your dreams, you're at this job as a stepping stone toward your dreams. While you're "stuck" there, you might as well be grateful for what it offers you.
What other opportunities might your job have for increasing your expertise? Perhaps there's a conference that you could attend that has a workshop or talk on a topic that will help you when you transition from here? The point is, there are ways you can turn this job into an asset and there's a lot to be grateful for.
#5 Visualize Your Exit Plan
One of the primary ways I've been able to maintain sanity while staying at my job is by visualizing my exit strategy. By thinking about how I'd like my days structured, where my income will come from, and who I will serve, I feel more connected to my dream career.
When I feel more connected to the life I want to be living, I feel less frustrated with life I'm currently in.
I begin each day with a short session of journaling and visualization. When I miss these morning sessions, I notice a vast difference in my attitude and focus throughout the rest of my day. By carving out 15 minutes daily to think about how you'll thrive dream career, you'll set yourself up for success when you're ready to say farewell.
Get my free guide to visualization below!
Next week, we're exploring the more tactical & tangible elements to surviving your desk job. I'll be sharing details of my desk & office set up, nutrition guidance and exercise tips that have made my days more manageable. Until then, let me know what you think about the tips above. I'd love to know how you've been surviving your desk job or what you're most excited to try!